Hello July!

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July, you are not my favorite month. I am not a fan of being hot and sticky and sweaty and Michigan summers are hot and sweaty and humid. Our family tends to shy away from the sunlight like vampires, hiding out in the air conditioning during the day, and then emerging in the evening as it cools off. None of us are summer lovers, in this house. But July, you have your own beauty and charm, and this year, I will embrace you more. You are a month of sunshine, and bright colors and flowers. Insects and birds are cheerily going about their business, flowers riot through gardens. There is a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables at the farm markets, bursting with flavor, and more bright colors. That is probably my favorite thing about you July, your vibrancy.

This month is a busy one too. We have so many fun things planned, in our own ways, of course. The fourth of July and family picnics. The lavender festival, the Detroit Kite Festival on Belle Isle. Bastille Day, watching the Tour de France together. Music concerts at the zoo. And three whole date nights for Billy and I, three weeks in a row! A dinner and tiki bar with new friends, a party with old coworkers, and then finally a date night at the zoo actually. I also see many more family dinners – my brother and I are trying to make them as weekly as possible. Iced tea parties with my boy once a week as well. Fresh salads, fresh fruits, simple easy meals. Trips to the library always feel so summery to me too.

As for me, I am going to a mom’s retreat in Texas at the end of the month, just my stepsister and I. I have to admit, I am super nervous. Beyond nervous and anxious. I have never been away from Wyatt more than 8 hours and now I will be gone for three nights. But I am doing it. I am teaching Wyatt to not let fear rule his life, and that begins with me. I have to do things that maybe I am scared to do, to show him that it is ok. I am also excited to go as well. I have always wanted to go to Texas, my whole life, and now I am. There is a chance to see some of my old college friends who moved to Austin as well, which would be a great big bonus. And this is a retreat for moms of kids with special needs like my kiddo, and the event coordinators have so many activities planned if we want to do them – or we can do whatever we want. Two and half days where I can do whatever I choose. So, this is going to be fun. I will get to hang out with my stepsister too, and really get to know her better, as we met when we were older. I am looking forward to that. It is a chance for me to grow, and it is good to push ourselves to that growth. Or that is what I keep telling myself!

I think this month too, I will revisit old children’s classic books, and just books that I loved as a child. I am also doing the Paris in July challenge, so that is on my mind too, all the fun reads and things I can for that. It has also been one year since I decided to start phasing out plastic, with Plastic Free July, and I signed up for a challenge for that as well, to keep me motivated and give me some new ideas. I need a push to get on that again, and the challenge will do well for that!

How about you all? Any big plans for July?

Hello June!

Wow, how is it June already? It seems like the year is flying by!

June is the month of the Strawberry Moon, and I am so excited to begin this month! This month I think we want to really soak up the month, as I am not sure where April and May went to so fast!

Summer begins in June, and it always brings to mind that freedom and joy felt when you are a child, and the whole summer is stretched out before you like a blank canvas. Mornings of sleeping in, lazy days reading under a tree, chasing fireflies and playing tag, trips to the cool library on those really hot days, visits to the zoo and beaches and walks through shady woods. Peeking under rocks for bugs and just laying back in the grass, staring up at the clouds. Playing with friends and cousins and backyard cookouts and pool play dates. Summertime feels like freedom, and we lose that feeling so much as an adult, with all of our responsibilities of work, whether it is a work out of the home job or stay at home. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past few months, it is that time is short. We all only have so many summers and while we do have to take care of lives, and can’t live with the utter carefreeness of a child all of the time, we can incorporate some of that spirit into our everyday. Stop and take half an hour or an hour on a busy day to just be. To enjoy and savor your life. Make days just for playtime and family and fun days out. Try and make the most of these days. The other day my husband came home from work and although it was dinner time and we had lots of things we could have and should have been doing, instead we hopped in the car, stopped at a bakery for pizza rolls, and headed off to the marsh for a sunset. A spur of the moment dinner picnic. It was good for the soul.

This summer, we are planning on many trips to the library, little morning hikes, and lots of evening front porch sitting. We are enjoying gardening and the farmer’s markets that are popping up, and we are looking forward to many backyard bbqs and fires, chilled white wine, iced lavendar coffee, and of course, lots and lots of ice cream! Mint chocolate chip for Wyatt and Billy, chocolate for me. Wyatt also started adaptive swimming lessons which are fun, he loves being in the water. He also really loves to splash! I think the two of us are going to the zoo, and to a few farms around here together, and we are planning on going strawberry picking with my brother and his family, including Wyatt’s cousin L. But we are also seeking out just those quiet moments too, sitting in the grass on a blanket surrounded by books and cookies and lemonade. Iced tea parties and poetry. Lounging about in our pajamas on a lazy morning, eating pancakes and listening to music. (My son loves Down by the Bay and will sing along, quite loudly…) Dancing around the house to Prince and Van Morrison and Tom Petty and Eric Church. Spontaneous trips for ice cream for dinner.

We had our first outdoor evening, soaking up the beautiful weather, warm and breezy, at my brother’s house the other night and it was perfect. Birds singing their evening song, burger and hot dogs, chips, cold beers, and bubbles for the kids to play with. I am looking forward to many more this summer!

What do you love about summer? Do you have any favorite memories from when you were a kid?

The Day of the Bear

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It is raining today, and I am sitting here drinking my coffee. My little is at preschool after a bit of a tearful drop off this morning. It was hard to leave, when his little face was all screwed up in a sad face, swallowed up by his yellow duck raincoat. But I kissed his cheek and headed to my car, missing him too.

There is something about rain, right? That makes us more sentimental? Or is that just me? This past summer, Wyatt and I got up and were getting ready for our day, eating breakfast and reading books about bears. This kid loves bears. I was sipping my coffee, looking out the clear blue sky, talking and reading with him as he drank his milk and sort of ate his breakfast.  I thought about the beautiful blue sky outside, and how the days was supposed to be mild, only in the 70s. And I thought, it’s a great day for the zoo! I asked Wyatt if he wanted to go see a bear, right now, today, and he of course told me yes, in the way that he has. He doesn’t say yes, or shake his head yes, but he puts his hand up to his head and moves his hand forward, like he is going to shake his head. When he was a baby, and with his gross motor disabililty, we were showing him how to shake his head, by putting our hands gently on him and showing him how to do it. His takeaway was that you use your hand to manually do it. We know what he is saying though. And I want to add, he says the word no, verbally and very clearly…lol.

So, I left him to finish breakfast and began rushing about the house to get our stuff ready for a day at the zoo with a three year old. All the important stuff went into a backpack, I loaded his stroller and him into the car, and off we went, into the wild blue and green day. The weather was perfect, the music was playing, and then..fifteen minutes from the zoo, the sky opened up and it just started pouring down rain. I had thoughts of Noah and his ark as I headed down the highway. It wasn’t supposed to rain! The forecast never said rain. I called my husband and had him check the weather for me – and he reported that there was seriously one lone rain cloud over where the area I was. And the zoo. He also told me that he thought it would blow over quickly. I decided to keep going. We had decided we were going to see a bear, and we were going to see those bears, rain be damned!

I arrive to a mostly empty zoo, most sane people staying in out of the rain I guess. I headed in to the gift shop and bought a poncho for Wyatt and an umbrella for me. Neither worked out for us. The poncho was too big, and came too close to his face for my liking, and I couldn’t manage to push the stroller and hold the umbrella. But still, we were not giving in. I put the hood up on the stroller to keep him as dry as I could, tucked the poncho around his legs, and kept going, getting wetter and wetter with each step.

And of course, zoos are designed with the Big Attraction animals at the back, to make people walk through the whole thing. I don’t know if that is purposeful, but it seems like it to me. And the Detroit Zoo has an extraordinarily long walk into the actual zoo. So we basically had to walk all the way to the back of the zoo. We took random breaks under trees (it wasn’t storming, just downpouring) and stopped to look at other animals, if there was a shelter for us. But for the most part, we persevered. Wyatt thought it was a blast, honestly. I was soaking wet, and he was wet but we made it to the bears.

And it was awesome. We were the only ones there, just standing there in the rain, looking at the bears. One of the bears was sleeping in the sheltering cave feature, but the other was hanging out in the rain. He had been relaxing, maybe enjoying the cool rain for a bit, and when we arrived, he looked up at us. And there we were, the three of us, in a downpour, all looking at each other. It was a moment that I feel I will remember forever. Wyatt and I looked at each other, smiling, then back at the bear, who kept his steady brown gaze on us. Maybe he thought we were nuts. Maybe he wanted us to go away, as he had been enjoying the solitude, although we were not talking or making any noise. It was sort of..pure. Powerful. It was so quiet, just the sound of the rain pattering away on the umbrella and the trees. There was no attempt to grab a photo, especially with my arms full of preschooler and an umbrella. Nothing to distract from the moment.

We stood there a little bit, not too long, but long enough. Eventually Wyatt went back into his stroller, all tucked up, eating his goldfish which somehow he could eat without them getting soggy, and we slogged back to the car. But it felt different now. At least for me. I felt more carefree and less upset about the rain. I guess though once you are wet enough, who cares? I wonder if the morning would have been the same had I had our raincoats. I kind of think it wouldn’t have been.

Now when it rains, I think about the bear, and standing in the rain with my son, all alone, looking at a bear who was looking back at us.

Mini-Post: Feeling Peachy!

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“We are going on an adventure!”

This is what I tell Wyatt every time we leave the house, even if it is just to head up to the store. You never know what the day will bring! Sunday started out dreary and overcast for the third day in a row but we were not letting a little gray sky darken our day. I had a surprise up my sleeve! As I piled the car up with picnic type foods and rain coats, my husband was a bit confused, but he is game for anything so just kind of shrugged before taking the wheel and heading south.

I navigated our family to a favorite spot of ours, Erie Orchards, an orchard my family has been going to since I was a little girl, probably around Wyatt’s age. It was peach picking time! We picked up our bag from the adorable weather-beaten barn store, and rolled our Jeep on over a few dirt roads back to where the peach trees grew.

We could see people over in the blueberry patch, but we weren’t here for blueberries. We had the peaches all to ourselves. And Wyatt had a blast! Some of the trees were small enough for him to stand under and reach the peaches right off the branch, which he thought was the best thing ever! He happily snapped them off and deposited them into our bag.

 

Look at that look of concentration, and he even said peach for the first time!!

We had a wondeful adventure on a day that looked like it was going to be a bummer. The sky was heavy with clouds, which made the day cooler, and their was virtually no humidity. Add a small cool breeze and it was actually pretty perfect.

You just never know where a day will take you.

And now we have 8 lbs of peaches to use. A small thing though for such a fun day!

Anyone have any good peach recipes to share with me?

Gearing up for Storm Season

Spring has arrived, and everything seems to be coming back to life. Birds are chirping in the trees, green shoots are emerging from the earth,  the sun is shining brightly in the morning.

However, spring in Michigan also means storm season has arrived, with severe storm and tornado watches and warnings. My dad works for disaster services, and has volunteered for the Red Cross for years and years. His prepper mentality has rubbed off on me over the years, and while I am not quite to my dad’s level, I am trying to be more prepared for what comes our way, especially with a toddler who I want to keep safe at all times.

So with my dad’s input, I put together a small Stormy Day Kit. The helmet is all my dad’s suggestion – I would never have thought that. He pointed out to me though that so many people are injured during tornados due to flying debris in their home that a helmet is a must, at least for Wyatt. Many times cities or organizations have bike safety awareness events in May, and often they hand out free helmets to kids. Keep an eye out for one of these events, and maybe you can score a free helmet for your safety kit. Or for your child to use while bicycling if they don’t have one already! The one in my picture is the one we put on Wyatt for bike rides or when he is outside in his gait trainer, but I hope to pick him up a spare at a bike safety event this month.

My Stormy Day Kit

First and foremost, a weather radio is a must. I really liked this one by Esky. It is small, easily portable, charged by a hand crank, charges your cell phone, and is solar powered in case you want to take it camping or hiking even. It’s water resistant, has an extra flashlight for you, and has AM/FM/WB stations. We just leave ours tuned to the weather band though during inclement weather.

Flashlights, extra batteries are a given and easily added, and a first aid kit is another necessity, although one hopefully you never have to use, except to maybe  steal a Band-Aid from. (although if you do, replace it!) I got this one at Target for less than five dollars! I am probably going to pick one up for my car’s summer adventure kit too.

Non-perishable snacks and water are a good idea, in case you need to take cover for a while. I also added bubbles to help entertain Wyatt, since I wouldn’t want to run my phone’s battery down too much. I will probably also add a book, and some crayons and a coloring book as well. And since he is still a little guy, a diaper and wipes. You never know right? Kids need a diaper change at the worst times usually – just ask my friend Kelly! An extra phone charger to keep with your kit would be a great addition. Best to have all the chargers in my opinion. If you will need medication, remember to add that in as well, either add in some extra if you have it or grab it on the way to sheltering in an emergency. I also threw in some hand sanitizer, because I always have it with me. Lol.

I also have two fabulous apps on my phone – Code Red and the FEMA weather app. Both are free and will keep you up to date on any emergency situations. Code Red actually alerted us to a hostage situation that was taking place nearby, where a man with a gun had barricaded himself into a building. We hadn’t been watching tv or anything, so we had no idea that it was happening. It really didn’t affect us, but it was a good thing to be aware of. Basically, it made me go check to see that all of our doors and windows were locked. So it was good to have. I will add though, that they do seem to notify me a lot, especially the FEMA app. I don’t know if there are settings I can adjust but it is definitely something to be aware of, especially if that is something that will affect your phone plan and charges.

Your own stormy day kit can be personalized and customized to fit your needs and your family’s need, based on age of kids, no kids, pets, and geographic area. For more ideas, check out Fema.gov and Ready.gov and to just learn more about how to safe this spring and summer. They have all the instructions on what to do during all sorts of weather – they are the experts! I am not a professional or anything, just a person who tries to be prepared and organized. (tries, being the key word!) And that reminds me- I am going to add a whistle to my stormy day kit.

Please make sure to do the research necessary to keep your own family safe – these are just my ideas and what I have in my own kit as suggestions and to get you thinking about what you need for where you live and for your family. A starting off point, if you will. If you do end up making a stormy day kit, I would love to hear what you learned from your research and what you added to yours!

 

P.S. This is not an affiliate post! 

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The Importance of Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream!

Lately, this family has gone crazy over ice cream.

Vanilla, chocolate, coffee, peanut butter. In a cone. In a cup. In a cup with a cone on top. With coffee, with wine ~ sometimes even with a little whiskey poured over the top with a dash of pepper.  (the adults only versions, of course)

I have to admit, prior to this summer, I was never a huge fan, preferring slushes instead. But my skinny malinky long legs boy loves ice cream. And since he needs to gain weight, he gets it. And since we are there, so do we.

All this ice cream has turned us into ice cream connoisseurs, of a sort. We have a few locally made ice cream parlors around us, and we alternate between them on ice cream nights, every time debating the various merits. This one is creamier; that one is more flavorful. This one has a cuter shop; that one is a local tradition.

We can never come to a definitive decision for a winner.

Ice cream is one of those foods, like Proust’s madelines. I feel it is transportive, can connect you with a place or a memory or a feeling with just a bite. All those celebrations, vacations, lazy summer days.

Ice cream makes me think of my grandfather, who was always this strong, quiet presence in my life. He was a man of few words, but I remember so many nights where we load up into his car, always one of those large, plush interior cars, and I would feel so small but safe and cozy in the backseat next to my little brother and mom. He always went to the same place, Calder’s Dairy, with its white chairs that line the glass wall, and in those days, there was always a line out the door. He would  get butter pecan without fail, and I would get chocolate or superman, and then we would all eat in the parking lot, standing about in the glow from the setting sun. Everyone ate their ice cream so fast, except me. They would be finished while I was furiously trying to finish mine to keep up. As night drew on, on those endless summer nights of childhood, my grandpa always took us on a drive before heading home. Occasionally he would point out places he had worked, or the homes of friends from his younger days, but mostly he was silent, and so was I, as we navigated though neighborhoods unfamiliar to me, the empty cup in my hands, the taste of the rich chocolate becoming a memory, one that I would remember now, a married woman with my own child to make ice cream memories with.

It’s All About the Bicycles

Today is a day that Billy and I count down to in the summer – the start of the Tour de France. He is a huge bike guy; I just love the Tour. I am in awe of what these men do, how far they ride, for how long, through the Alps for goodness’ sake. Whole mountain ranges are devoured by their bike tires and sweat. It is an amazing feat, and I am blown away by their tenacity and athleticism. We hope to go and stand on the sidelines one day, cheering them on along the road of some small town in the mountains of France.

Our date night this week was bikecentric – I am not sure if the Detroit Zoo planned it for the week of the Tour on purpose, but if not, good timing on their part! The zoo hosted an evening event, a Bike Safari if you will, where participants could ride their bikes through the winding paths of the zoo, stopping to view the animals along the way. It was family friendly, although it was sponsored by New Belgium Brewery; you just got one of those neat wristbands to prove you were over 21.  Over 800 people attended, and it made for a very fun evening. Despite being so many people in attendance, it was not a difficult ride. I get really nervous if people ride too close to me, I am not a super confident bicyclist. However, there were three different start times, and it really divided everyone up very effectively. People riding were spaced very well, and it only became tricksy a few times, when riders would stop suddenly in front of you to see an animal, rather than biking to the side of the pathway and stopping.

There were three hydration stations set up, and two of them included a 3 – oz sample of New Belgium beer to those who wanted to imbibe. We of course drank our samples, along with the water that was also provided. I am not a super big beer drinker, but I enjoyed my choices! The options were Cirtadelic Tangerine, Fat Tire, Voodoo Ranger IPA, and Dayblazer. I chose Dayblazer and Fat Tire; Billy had Voodoo Ranger and Dayblazer. We also got a can each at the end of the ride as well, same choices. We stuck with two we had already had – me again with the Fat Tire, Billy with the Voodoo Ranger. They were icy cold and delicious after the long hot ride through the zoo. There was a live band at the finish, along with a few food options and the opportunity to purchase more drinks. Alternatively, people could choose to go listen to scientists speak at the reptile house about the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project. Nature nerds that we are, we opted for the wolf-moose project, although our beers did come with us.

The two scientists were full of interesting information and facts. We have always wanted to visit Isle Royale, so it was cool to talk to people who have not only been there, but really know the island intimately, and all of her inhabitants. It is a sad scenario though. Right now, there are some 1500 moose on the island. And just two wolves, who are so inbred that the pack is dead. They cannot reproduce. The pack in its heyday numbered 50, at least in as far as scientists have been tracking its numbers. Due to all the inbreeding though, numbers began to fall as they died off. Their health was compromised and a strain of parvo killed a bunch off. The moose are without predators, and while this seems like yay moose ~ it really isn’t, as they may run out of food sources themselves as the island may not be able to support that many moose, unchecked. This is the subject that the scientists we spoke with were studying, the effect of the moose upon the fir, and just how long these moose could be sustained by the fir trees on the island. They eat fir trees, and these fir trees barely have the opportunity to grow, as the moose just eat the heck out of them. An obvious solution would be to introduce a new pack. I would love to see this happen, and have the balance returned to the island.

That is only replica moose scat, btw. Lol. And a kick butt caiman looking at us in the reptile house.

This event was a great time, and well worth the money we paid to do it. It was a wonderful night and we will definitely go again. If you are interested in reading more about the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project, you can go here and here. If you are interested in participating (even cooler!) check this out.

 

Front Porch Sittin’

Lately, we have put done our cell phones, turned off the television, and headed outside to the front porch to sit a while, and enjoy the evening with a cold drink or two. Wyatt joins us with his sippy cup of milk, while I sip my own drink of chilled white wine, a summer thing of mine. Billy usually has a craft beer, and we just kick it on the porch for a spell.

These evenings are so peaceful. No phones ringing or dinging, just the three of us chatting away. Occasionally we give a wave to a neighbor, exchange a hello, a word or two, but mostly our little family catches up on the day, just as the day is putting itself to bed. Sometimes, we just enjoy the sounds of the world around us, the small, thriving community that is all around us but haven’t noticed in our daily hustle.

Up and down the block, birds are chirping, tweeting, heading home to their nests, beaks full of insects and other goodies for their growing families. In the big elm across the street, a family of starlings has made their home, deep inside a hollow. Down the street in the maple, you can find a nest full of robins, and across the street from the robins, a couple of nuthatches. Somewhere nearby live the neighborhood Downy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, cardinals, who always pop by for a visit. I hear the raucous call of a blue jay usually once a day, not to mention all the little brown birds, the black capped chickadees, and finches that twitter and tussle and flit about.

We have our own little bird family, another little group of robins, five in total – momma, dad, and three young babies. Or, rather, they used to be babies. Mom and Dad Robin moved into our maple, building their nest right almost at eye level, in the crook of the tree. We watched the babies, while mom and dad watched us. The babies grew up so fast, and recently flew the nest. We saw the last of these fledglings, standing on the edge of the nest, preparing for first flight. A day or two later, we saw a fledgling hanging out in our apple tree, on the lowest possible branch.

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Used to the all the evening chatter as the birds gossip about their day, we were sitting on the porch when the conversation around us ceased, followed by the loud shriek of a hawk. This new youngling landed right in our neighbor’s tree, on the hunt for something or other. We hope the reason is not related to the sudden presence of this little guy who tried to visit.

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Don’t you just love that little face?? I hope this little guy was adventuring for fun and not because mom became dinner. Cute as he is, he wanted up on our porch and I didn’t want him to visit that close. So we gently shoo’d him a bit, and he took temporary refuge under our apple tree. Hopefully he wandered back home, because he was gone when I checked on him an hour or so later..

It is amazing what you can see right from your own front porch, if you just let yourself sit and just be, for a while. Take away the distractions, get back to a slower, simpler way of living – there is a whole other world living there in front of us. Everywhere you look, there is life. What have you seen lately? How do you unwind?

Tuesday is the New Date Night

Tuesday is our new date night.

Billy and I haven’t had many opportunities to go out since we had Wyatt two years ago; like most parents with new babies, most of our entertainment became stuff we could do at home, with the boy, or family adventure days. Which we love, we love all of our family time. But it was also time to start going out again, the two of us. And my super cool mom noticed, and volunteered to watch Wyatt every Tuesday night so that Billy and  I can go out.

We had out second date night this week. Last week, we weren’t sure what to do with our newfound time, so we took a drive and went back home. This time though, we knew we wanted to have dinner somewhere new. Recently, a few restuarants from Detroit are branching out into the surrounding suburbs, which works well for us, especially now on a tight time budget. I had been wanting to try Bobcat Bonnies for months, and I finally got my chance on date night!

Our pregnant, accented, adorable waitress sat us and handed us the menus, including the very long list of mostly Michigan craft beers. After learning it was also Taco Tuesday, I knew that was the route I was going. My tacos came with a can of beer, which I didn’t want, as I had my eye on a peach basil mule. Billy ordered the beer instead, a Keweenaw Pick Axe. I took a sip and declared it delicious. For food, we started with a tater tot appetizer, because this place is known for their inventive tots. Then I ordered the tacos (the “Rio Bravo” and the vegan chorizo ones) and Billy opted for the kimchi bowl. We both must be wimps – the vegan chorizo was way too spicy for me. Billy had of course expected some heat from his dinner, but the Korean beef pushed it over the top. He ate about half, but still loved it.

Stuffed to the gills, we were going to skip dessert until the waitress mentioned glitter. Yep, they had a unicorn cheesecake, complete with glitter. How do you pass that up? I’ll tell you. You don’t. I don’t even particularly like cheesecake, but it was date night, and we were going all out. Or all in? Whatever, it was worth it! And I didn’t eat that third taco anyway, so eating half of this was a perfectly acceptable trade.

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We headed back home to our little guy full of happy and good food and drink. He was all clean and in his jammies, thanks to grandma. I learned he had a good night too, and had thoroughly enjoyed a hot fudge sundae.

Next date night we have tickets to a bike safari at the Detroit Zoo! I can’t wait to go.

 

Summertime…

Summertime and the living is easy, especially when you are a kid. All that carefree abandon, the long days of no responsibility, full of good times and sunshine. Riding bikes, playing tag as the sun sets, staying up late. Sticky popsicles that run down your hand and arm, lunches that get slightly soggy when eaten after swimming, still in your swimsuit, hair dripping. Running barefoot in the grass, laying out a blanket to read, Capri Sun next to you, because summer to a bookworm also means more time to read. I spent many summers getting to know the Ingalls family, a particular favorite of mine. Reading about Ferdinand the bull, the Poky Little Puppy, Curious George, James Herriot and his Yorkshire Dales and cows and dogs, The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike, my first intro to horror fiction. The list goes on and on.

I remember my mom signing me up every year for the summer reading program. I wasn’t the most athletic kid, and I was quiet and shy, and remember thinking, “Finally, a competition I might be able to win!” I did win, many times actually, as a kid, and even as an adult. I loved (still do) the library in the summer. An oasis of peace, calm, and cold temperatures, to a kid whose family did not have central air. My legs would be freezing, but I didn’t care, as I browsed books like it was my job. Story time was fun too, when I was younger. The Children’s Librarian of my youth became the Library Director and then finally retired, in the years I have been going to my library. A whole career that I was witness to.

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And the tradition continues. On Monday, my sister-in-law Chrissy and I took our kids to the library and signed them up together for summer reading. I don’t remember themes being a thing when I was younger, but our theme for this year is STEAM, which is pretty cool. For Wyatt and L.’s age group, 0-3, we follow the path of a game board, and of course read to the kids. The game board gives us direction – for instance, our first square tells us to read a science book. Chrissy and I scoured the shelves looking for one that would interest us as well as the kids. I ended up choosing a Dr. Seuss animal book, because that counts right? I didn’t end up reading that one to Wyatt though, anyway. Instead I read him a fantastic book from our own collection, called You Are Stardust. I love love love it. I of course signed up for the adult program too, and this year they had a version for “busy moms”, even though I feel like all moms are busy? Also board game format, it is more focused on reading with your family, and doing family activities, rather than reading books just for you on your own. I guess it does make sense really. I chose that one this time. And just like when I was a kid, my fingers are crossed that I win something!

And just because I am no longer that same young and carefree little kid, wearing terry cloth rompers, reading the day away, playing with my cousins, I can still eat popsicles sitting on the front porch, and run around barefoot. And of course, I still do. I’ve also been known to flag down the ice cream man just for a bomb pop.

What about you? What were your summers like?